“What you don’t believe can kill you…”
As of September 25th 2023, 1998s whodunit slasher Urban Legend is now a quarter of a century old!
Relying on tales of terror from contemporary folklore, the film follows a group of students on a remote college campus. Their care-free lives are upended when a serial killer begins picking them off in ways they’d only previously known as grim moral fairytales.
Urban Legend was Tri-Star and Sony Pictures grab at the brass ring that was the post-Scream slasher revival. By most contemporary accounts, the film remains one of the more successful entries in Scream’s wake.
This is primarily accredited to the late Silvio Horta’s writing, which remains sharp and horrific enough to rival Kevin Williamson. It is Horta’s effortless integration of urban legends into the plot that is credited by historians for helping the macabre stories endure today, as they were rapidly beginning to fade from the public consciousness by ’98.
However, we must not forget the incredible efforts of first-time director Jamie Blanks in ensuring Urban Legend would stand the test of time. Given the slick and incredibly fluid way Urban Legend looks and moves, it seems almost unfathomable that the young Australian had never directed a feature before. Oozing class and style with gliding crane shots and stunning blue hues, Blanks elevated a studio’s simple slasher tale into something that feels much grander, despite a modest $14 million budget.
Much like Scream, Urban Legend also had the great fortune of a dynamite cast with the perfect mix of actors on the rise and horror legends. Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Tara Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, and Joshua Jackson all successfully appealed to the younger audiences, be it from hit movies or popular television shows. Similarly, Robert Englund, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, and Julian Richings brought credibility among notoriously picky genre fans.
Securing a healthy $72 million at the box-office, Urban Legend was unquestionably the hit the studios were seeking. However, due to all the talent and graft listed above, it continues to endure fondly 25 years later.
Here’s to the next 25 years of Urban Legend, huh?